I woke up this morning, ice rain falling on my car. Three different densities of fog developed from my exhaling breath: one the usual, everyday fog representing my life force; a second the worried fog that danced a little more, caused by 2020 itself; the third, the devastated fog of living in the northern midwest that fell straight to the ground, caused by having Kirk Cousins stuck as the Vikings quarterback for the next three years.
But if I’m wearing my fantasy forecaster hat, I really should be dancing in the ice rain: Kirk Cousins is bringing some teams to fantasy playoff glory.
That’s the funny thing about fantasy sports compared to real life sports: there are inadequate real-life signal callers who are fantasy gold, and there are great real life quarterbacks who are absolute sleepers in fantasy. The midwest writers for The Athletic point out that Cousins is rigid in following his reads — he doesn’t innovate and he doesn’t deviate from his play call. He’s won less than 10 games against teams with winning records in nearly 80 career starts. He went 0-9 on Monday Night Football before finally grabbing his first career win this year. From a real-life standpoint, Cousins is about as exciting as owning a Toyota Camry: yes, you know he’s ready to go every week, but once you start going, you can’t help but look at every other “car” you could have had. And yes, I did avoid the Derek Carr pun there.
Yet, Kirk Cousins is QB13 on the year. Over the last month, he’s a top 5 fantasy quarterback. I asked everybody to pay attention to him in Week 12 of my QB updates, not because he’s a great quarterback, but because the Vikings DEF was getting routed quickly and often, leading Cousins to do a lot of garbage time passing in the fourth quarter. In the second half of this fantasy season, Cousins is 5th in the league in fourth quarter TDs and 5th in passer rating. If you’re in the fantasy football playoffs and were riding Joe Burrow or streaming QBs through the season, Cousins quickly became your hot hand to take the signal caller duties on your fantasy team.
The takeaway lesson: Be flexible and be prepared to move quickly among QBs. Unless you landed Russ, Kyler, or Mahomes, you’ve probably been shouting from the rooftops “Do I start Herbert or Brady this week!?!?” And as 2020 does, Baker Mayfield and Drew Lock went wild in Week 14, finishing as top 5 QBs. In over 70% of their starts, these quarterbacks fail to break the top-12 QB scoring threshold.
But as I’ve been saying all year, the QB point parity is astounding. The difference between QB 7 and QB 17 this week was 5 fantasy points. There’s not a ton of worry to be had in lining up the QBs one-by-one and thinking, “Will this half point save my season?!” Nah, time’s too precious and life’s too short. Get the best matchup you can and go enjoy the game with your favorite beverage. Fantasy sports is about enhancing the real life game with an imaginary counterpart that you share with your friends.
So, let’s wrap up our fantasy year with a look back on how some quarterbacks helped you, some hurt you, and some team situations that you should pay attention to in the off-season.
Kyler Murray — The Razzbois were a little bit ahead of the curve on Kyler Murray going into 2020, and if you followed us, you probably took him too. I rostered Kyler as my QB1 on most of my best ball teams, which really helped my industry performance. Kyler was a top 3 quarterback for most of the year and spent the first part of the second half of the season as the undisputed QB1. He injured his shoulder recently and struggled to regain his form, so here’s hoping that Kyler puts up some big games to finish the season.
Justin Herbert — Every ranker “missed” on Justin Herbert because he was a rookie and there was simply no way to know that the backup for Tyrod Taylor would end up a top 10 QB. I mean, Herbert wouldn’t have been raking early in the season if it wasn’t for a freak medical malpractice from the Chargers’ team physician when he punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung administering an injection. I was one of the first rankers to start throwing Herbert into the top 10 and even top 5. You can call that crazy or aggressive or, simply what it was: league winning. Herbert’s draft status next year looks like top-12 material, although the Chargers’ coaching situation is tenuous. Keep an eye on off-season news, but for right now, I would grab Herbert in any format and be happy.
Dak Prescott — Razzbois were pretty high on Dak this year, and it paid off early before his gruesome ankle injury. Dak was on pace to break all sorts of records — both real and fantasy — and unfortunately, he suffered an injury that will probably be career-changing. We fans will never *truly* know the extent of Dak’s pain, but he suffered ligament and structural damage in his ankle, and those kinds of injuries are not easy to recover from. Additionally, Dak was in a weird contract limbo situation, so we may not know where Dak winds up next year for certain. That said, the Cowboys just trotted out a cadre of C-listers and fared pretty poorly. If you roster Dak in dynasty, his value is pretty low right now, so you should look for another QB to float your team through 2021 if not longer.
Ryan Tannehill — I’ve victory lapped this one all year so I don’t need to do much more. I was the most aggressive Razzball ranker on Tannehill, and one of the more aggressive rankers in the industry. Tannehill will finish the season in the top 10 QBs and might challenge top 5. Tannehill’s stats in 2020 were more or less in line with his 2019 stats, so I’m giving him the full green light in all leagues in 2021.
Derek Carr — This is a weird “hit” but I ranked him nearly 10 spots higher than the Razzbois and he’ll finish the year in the top 20 QBs. For a streamer, Carr probably saved a lot of teams this year. He’s available everywhere, he’s put up huge games (especially against the stout Kansas City DEF), but he’s also really streaky. Carr is a fine backup for a dynasty or a second QB in a superflex, but don’t expect him to stay in the top-12 QBs for a full season unless the Raiders make significant jumps in their passing game.
Drew Brees — I wasn’t overly optimistic about Brees, but I did have him in my top 7 QBs. It seems that Brees’ days of throwing the ball down the field are numbered, and we should remember him as the pigskin chucker of days past. He played most of the year without Michael Thomas, and Emmanuel Sanders got Covid in the middle of the season, and then Brees broke basically his entire chest and punctured his lungs. And somehow he’s still likely to trot out on the field to finish the season as the NOS starter. Brees is OK to drop in most leagues and shouldn’t be a dynasty acquisition target.
Matt Ryan — I still “like” Matt Ryan, and at the time of this writing, he’s still QB14. He’s been miserable over the past month for fantasy teams, and it’s tough to see the value he provided early in the year. He had a coaching change in the middle of the season, and his main receiver, Julio Jones, was in and out throughout the year. I would hold on rostering Ryan in dynasty leagues because the coaching situation in Atlanta will likely blow up, and there’s going to be plenty of turnover in the roster.
Aaron Rodgers — Just like advanced metrics can tell us when Kyler will break out, sometimes (not terribly often!) they miss, and Rodgers was an example of that this year. Every analyst was pointing out how bad Rodgers’ metrics were in 2019, and I put him down at 16 to start the season, when the Razzbois had him around 10. Rodgers missed his top receiver for several games to start 2020, but in typical Rodgers fashion, he plucked guys off the street and turned them into stars. Robert Tonyan for fantasy glory! Rodgers should be looked at like Brees in many ways: he’s 37 and entering the twilight of his career, and he can still provide fantasy glory, or perhaps his fantasy lines will be…gory.
Teams to Watch
New York Jets — Well, are they going 0-16? If so, Sam Darnold is basically watching his career tank before his 24th birthday. In fairness to Darnold, he was thrown into a horrific situation to start his career, from getting mono in 2019 to getting Adam Gase in 2020. The Jets acquired talent and then sent it off into the NFL for nothing in return, and it may take a while for the Jets to recover. Every pundit is pointing at Trevor Lawrence going to the Jets in 2021, but outside of deep dynasty leagues, you may want to wait on the Jets situation.
Miami Dolphins — Tua Tagovailoa is, of course, barely a couple games into his NFL career, but he’s already been benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick in an effort to “spark” the offense. Pundits have called him “boring” already, and that’s after watching a 37-year old guy who dumps it to running backs 40% of the time lead the Dolphins for two years. Tua may need more time than 2021 to come into his own as an NFL quarterback, so look at the Dolphins’ situation with a critical eye in 2021.
Jacksonville Jaguars — The Jags jettisoned Nick Foles after signing him to a big contract, tossed Leonard Fournette out, and had no issue trading away Yannick Ngakoue just before the start of the season. After letting Gardner Minshew captain the team for a year, it seems that the Jags are likely to damn the fan-favorite Minshew and find another QB in the draft in 2021. Minshew is finishing 2020 with what amounts to an audition for his job in 2021, which is really somewhat sad to see in both a real-life and fantasy perspective. The Jags already have three QBs with big arms. But whatever, I’m not an NFL roster manager. Regardless whether a 4th QB enters the fray in 2021, the Jags’ situation is still a mess, and you should avoid it as the primary option in your fantasy teams.
Philadelphia Eagles — It’s not that I don’t like Jalen Hurts, it’s that Carson Wentz is owed more money than several countries produce in GDP per year. I mean, we all thought the Nick Foles contract with the Jaguars was pretty ridiculous, but now Wentz is owed over $100 million and has taken a seat to the Jalen Hurts show. The Eagles are also a mess on offense and were basically throwing warm bodies into the mix at receiver all year. Regardless who starts in 2021, it’s going to be a tough fantasy season to predict for the Eagles.
Indianapolis Colts — Philip Rivers is 39 years old and becomes a free-agent next season. Guess who’s been a top-20 fantasy QB for the past 5 seasons? It’s your sturdy man, Philip Rivers! With Jacoby Brissett as the backup, it’s not like the Colts completely disappear off the fantasy radar. But if Rivers retires or goes somewhere else, there could be a big opportunity for playing time in the dynamic Colts’ offense.
New England Patriots — Cam Newton is also on a one-year contract, and he’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for fantasy owners. Some weeks, he’s been top 10; some weeks, he’s completely in the fantasy dumpster. Newton showed he’s got life and is worthy of a NFL starting job, but he might end up playing on another team in 2021.
2020 has been a fun year here at Razzball, and I hope to see you more. If you haven’t been following my Razzbowl Recaps, please do that and join in on the fun. Otherwise, let me know what quarterbacks you want to see profiled in the offseason in the comments, and I’ll see you on the basketball and baseball sides. Cheers all.
Aye, you made it this far, didn’t ya. EverywhereBlair is, well, located at home right now. He’s a historian and lover of prog-metal. He enjoys a good sipping rum. When he’s not churning data and making fan fiction about Grey and Donkey Teeth, you can find him dreaming of shirtless pictures of Lance Lynn on Twitter @Everywhereblair.